Sunday, November 28, 2010

On The Term "Palestine"

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The term 'Palestine' is a widely-attested Western and Near Eastern conventional name for the region that includes contemporary Israel, the Israeli-occupied territories, part of Jordan, and some of both Lebanon and Syria. Its traditional area runs from Sidon on the coast, to Damascus inland, southwards to the Gulf of Aqaba, and then north-west to Raphia. The Sinai Desert is usually considered a separate geographical zone to the south.

'Palestine' is first attested in extant literature in the 5th cent. BC, when it appears in the Histories of Herodotus (Hist. 2: 104, etc.) as Palaistinê. It seems to have its origins in the root form p-l-s-t , denoting the land of the Philistines, though it has generally in Western usage referred to a much wider region than coastal Philistia, including the area that is known in Biblical, Rabbinic and Samaritan literature as the Land of Israel (Eretz-Yisra'el) or ancient Canaan. The term 'Palestine' has over many centuries retained its relevance as an apolitical geographical term regardless of the nation-states and administrative entities that have existed in this region. It has no political associations...


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1 comment:

Suzanne Pomeranz said...

But it was never used in any "offical" capacity until the Roman Emperor Hadrian decided to rename what was then called the Province of Judaea to "Provinka Palestina" in 135 CE.

Just to clarify...